|Z and I a decade ago!|
When I lived in Bratislava (ten years ago – eek, that went fast!), I made a totally fabulous friend who in the interests of privacy I’ll call Z. We recognised each other one day at the bus stop early in my stay, as she was a student in one of my large in-company English classes, and then figured out we lived on the same street – close enough that we could see each others’ bedroom windows, in fact! We also soon discovered that we were the same age (within a couple of weeks), loved chocolate, wanted to go swimming to get fit, and could talk until the small hours of the morning. It was the first time in a long time that I’d felt like I had a best friend, and it was fantastic.
After a year, my contract expired and I left Bratislava to move to Germany, and we were both so sad that I was moving. Having already done that leaving thing a couple of times, I knew that no matter how much we phoned or emailed, our friendship would never be quite the same as it was when we lived in the same street.
What I didn’t find out until later was that Z was sad mostly because she thought we’d ever see each other again. I think that growing up in a socialist country, with all the limitations and restrictions that imposes, meant that Z couldn’t really believe that travelling far and wide to see friends could be a realistic expectation.
Thankfully she didn’t have to wait long to be proven wrong. It was only five or six months later that my new boss in Germany took me to Vienna for a conference, and of course being so close to Bratislava this meant Z and I could arrange to catch up. We were both so excited to see each other and that’s when she confessed that she hadn’t really believed we’d ever meet again.
Since then, I’ve been to the Czech Republic to visit her after she moved away from Bratislava; she came to visit me in Germany before I moved back to Australia. But best of all, on this trip to Europe, I got to take my son to stay with Z and her daughter in Trnava, Slovakia, her newest home. We hadn’t seen each other for about six years and in that time we’d both become parents, and had so many new things to talk about.
|Z with our children – ten years on|
We spent five days in Trnava and every moment of it was delightful, and Z and I slipped straight back into our friendship, even though we both had an extra (young) person along with us now. Most delightfully, by the end of our stay and without any special attention from us, these two young people had also become firm friends, despite the age gap, gender difference and lack of a common language! It was such a special week and one that made me so glad that the world really is “smaller” now, that we can easily add on a side-trip to Slovakia en route to elsewhere in Europe, and happy that email and Facebook keep us in contact enough to be able to ask to come and stay.